Recalibrating 2020 tech spend: Are your investments even paying off?

As the industry gears up for 2020 and financial budgets for the coming year get locked in, Forrester's latest report titled "Predictions 2020: CMO" says that tech spend will be "reaching new heights". But despite the increase in spend, productivity is said to be dipping and customer experience (CX) quality has "stalled for the fourth year in a row".

Forrester's study warned that buying more technology before having a strategy is no longer a solution for waning growth. "Creativity and strategy will recalibrate the tech mess, lifting brands out of this rut and onto the growth path via emotion-laden expressions of brand personality and by using existing underlying technologies to deliver uniqueness to customers," the study said.

Those that don?t take this path will be lost in a sea of tech-fueled commoditisation.

With numerous conversations surrounding spending on adtech and martech over the past few years,?Marketing speaks to industry players on their tech spend in 2020, what they are looking to invest in, and ways they hope to strike a balance between spend and productivity.

Linda Hassan, senior VP, marketing, Domino?s Pizza Malaysia and Singapore

There has definitely been a shift towards adtech and martech spend in recent years. I believe that the investments in these segments will continue to grow in 2020. Spending on new technology is an essential part of today's marketing efforts and if used efficiently it will generate effective and impactful results for campaigns.

When selecting a touch-point to reach out to our consumers it is important that the platform, approach and tone are relevant to the target market segment. Where there are investments involved, the feasibility and data to support the effectiveness of the tool or platform is always a checkpoint that we look into. Having said that, we are also open to explore new untested channels to experiment and pioneer unprecedented approach.

At the end of the day, the returns must be able to substantiate the investment in terms of the desired results.

That is an important balance to strike especially when there are budget constraints. This is where creative approach coupled with adtech solutions may be the key in establishing the balance that is needed.

Marcus Chew, CMO, Income

I never believe in jumping in with a large investment in tech stacks from the onset. At Income, we always insist on having clarity on our end goal ? the CX and efficiencies that we want to achieve. We then identify and match tech tools and capability to drive seamless digital journey for our customers in phases. We always stipulate clear measurement of success such as incremental sales, better cost per acquisition (CPA) and return on ad spend, as well as, build check-points to evaluate performance to ensure that the spend is optimised to drive results. This way of working allows us to be sharper in managing business goals and tech spend realistically and in a targeted manner.

I believe that tech spend will continue to rise. One main reason is that increasingly more companies are playing catch-up in designing and building a more advanced and sophisticated customer experience digitally. For these companies, they will need to invest in relevant martech to help deepen their insights on customers to deliver a good onsite customer experience, especially in reducing points of friction in the customer journey online to offline and back to online. To enhance their media efficiency and to reduce acquisition cost, adtech investments are key for them to maintain or enhance productivity.

In short, the priority is to focus investment in areas that matters most to customers to optimise efficiency and business impact.

Marketers should hold a close reign on the return on investment, either in the form of increasing returns or reducing overall capital spend for the same returns vis a vis their tech spend. A close watch on making sure such outcomes are met will ensure efficiency, which balances spend with productivity.

To achieve the latter, marketers should also ensure that their tech spend enables them to harness data to customise their digital outreach to customers.

Our experience at Income shows that a little personalisation goes a long way. Our click-through-rate improved by 92% while our CPA halved. With our customised digital experiences to help Singaporeans find and buy insurance policies easily, our sales increased by 12%. Such meaningful engagements were not possible traditionally.

Erick Wicaksono, VP of marketing, Bukalapak

I do agree that tech spending has reached new heights. Our market is still growing, and the fast pace of continuous change leaves no room to stay conventional and in some cases push us to spend more. I believe in the past couple of years, tech investment which was originally based on the spirit of innovation in solving problems, has heavily influenced by the need to stay relevant and survive the fierce competition. However, today there?s more maturity in the tech spending, and the investment is more strategic.

There?s no end to this game, so the only way to invest is to invest sustainably.

Many solutions to companies? problems are available internally. Before we?re looking for those answers outside, we first must do our due diligence to optimise our internal process, existing platforms and culture. And sometimes by doing so we will rediscover our uniqueness and what we really stand for, and this is what matters the most at the end of the day.

Mark Phibbs,?VP, growth marketing, Cisco, Asia Pacific, Japan and China

It is vital to combine people and process together with technology to ensure you get marketing and business impact from martech spend. Technology spend alone is not enough, you need people who can use it and use the insights it generates to provide a more personalised experience and thus generate more business.

I think spend will continue to grow and we live in a digital world and customer expectations continue to rise, automation together with streamlined process? and skilled people are the only way to meet and exceed customer expectations. You should invest in tech that will allow you to make the biggest business impact. What to invest in depends on your company's digital maturity.

Manisha Seewal, group CMO, CARRO

I agree [with Forrester] and it?s about time that corporations did a thorough review of their marketing engine to assess which platforms are providing insights needed to drive key business objectives. These include new customer acquisition, increasing lifetime value of existing customers, reducing customer acquisition cost or driving engagement.

We?re now in an era of streamlining what information is needed; not having fancy charts that please senior management, but don?t drive key business metrics.

As the role of the CMO evolves to be a customer expert, adtech and martech will combine to be madtech. This is powerful as most customer journeys of brand discovery start online and is powered by data to deliver a tailored customer experience. Over the next two years, the CMO that will emerge as the winner will be one who can harness adtech and martech to truly drive value for their marketing spend.

As a tech company, we believe in automating reports. We have an in-house fully digital marketing agency and keep close tab on madtech to deliver our marketing strategy. Being a start-up, we need to be agile and quick to market changes, so we prefer to track these metrics in-house as much as possible. It also keeps our eyes and ears close to the ground as we work closely with sales to drive business growth.

As a CMO, I frequently challenge the value and the agility of several platforms in the market, which tend to aggregate the information that I can sometimes find easily through Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Facebook Business Manager and MailChimp.

To strike a balance between spend and productivity, marketers must focus on measuring what matters and tag it to how marketing is driving business.

CMOs who are not digitally savvy rely on martech platforms and measure the usual metrics that are provided to them on an ?as-is? basis. This quick-win could mean that they are measuring and competing on the same metrics as their competitor. So where is the Blue Ocean strategy in this? Marketers should also assess how far they can push the boundaries of tools that are freely available to save their" madtec" spend.

Data Studio by Google is a good example; it?s a data visualisation tool helps me visualise all of CARRO?s key madtech metrics across four markets Southeast Asia ? down to the level of CPC, CPL and cost per keyword. This dashboard is auto triggered to me every day at 7 am, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Not only is it a great way of keeping me up to date and measuring what matters, it?s also helped us save 37% of our marketing spend just in Singapore alone. I believe that tools like these can help marketers strike that spend-productivity balance, so long as they are disciplined in measuring only what matters and utilise the tools available to them readily. You will be surprised by how much noise irrelevant data can throw at you.

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